By; CARL UMEGBORO
GOVERNOR of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai in recent times has faced diverse public opinions over his mass sack of 21,780 teachers in the state primary education board on account of failure to meet up with periodic competency test conducted by the state government. The action ushered in mixed reactions from the polity; one side hailing the state government while the other rarely takes breathes in writing-off the actions.
As a result, threats upon threats; of thunders, brimstones, labour actions and endless pressures continue to mount from various quarters especially the Nigerian Union of Teachers in the state for reversal. Politicians were not left out from taking sides particularly those in the opposition leveraging on the commission. Incidentally, the governor remains unperturbed but standing vehemently on his actions. Some critics anchored their sentiments on the present economic situation in the country arguing that relieving people from their means of survival at the critical moment is the height of insensitivity, callousness and recklessness.
However, taking a cursory look at el-Rufai’s profile which convincingly shows that he places premium value in education as a first-class graduand during his first degree coupled with the universally accepted proposition that education is the most effective means of nation building, any positive-minded person would stand with or adopt el-Rufai’s actions. The bitter truth is that education sector cannot ideally be run on sentiments or merely job creation strategy especially the primary school which lays the foundation. A state with incompetent teaching workforce is dead from the foundation knowing that it is garbage in, garbage out.
El-Rufai’s bold actions are constructive, patriotic and desideratum. A teacher that is incompetent, deficient has no business to be seen in schools parading as a teacher. It is nonsequito and emphatically in conflict with ‘nemo dat quod non habet’ rule (you cannot give what you do not have). Education sector is vital in any society and therefore must in principle be protected, stimulated and promoted. Teaching jobs must be offered exclusively to competent teachers and separated from partisan politics. The critics never bothered about what becomes of the pupils under the teachers’ custody in the future. Without mincing words, to allow incompetent teachers to superintend in schools as teaching workforce is as dangerous as child-trafficking. It is insentiently planned damage to the future of the state. To resuscitate public schools across the country, other governors should borrow same devices from Kaduna state.
Corruption is not only when public fund is looted, diverted or ferried to overseas accounts by public officeholders. A teacher must be proficient, sound and properly trained accordingly for anticipated service-delivery. There’s no magic that can upgrade our education system except by putting square pegs in corresponding holes and undergoing periodic trainings and competency tests. Most of puerile characters masquerading in the societies are mostly products of poor foundation and upbringing. Thus, every sensitive government will inevitably step on toes as the present quagmire in Kaduna to make things function appropriately and effectively. If a carpenter could undergo trainings to come up with appealing products, why would a teacher who teaches human beings jump the queue to be coaching children believing that nothing is in teaching? Indeed, a lot is involved in molding the leaders of tomorrows.
By the mammoth figure certifiably proven to be incompetent through the competency test, it is logically irrefutable that Kaduna is a collapsed state vis-à-vis education except the privileged ones with wherewithal to patronize private schools. Thus, the state deserves a state of emergency as the governor did. The cleansing exercise should rather spread across other states too. Teaching must be left for those with commensurate trainings and taken seriously akin to the health sector. This alone will go a long way in safeguarding the society from crimes in future as statistics have shown that crimes are more committed by unschooled population and dropouts who are usually products of quack teachers and then pathetic background.
However, on economic consideration, the state government should move the affected teachers to other sectors that they may fit in with their little qualifications as much as state treasury can accommodate. Without a doubt, the economic situation in the country as a result of visionless governments in the past particularly to low income-earners does not support joblessness at the moment. Thus, whilst it may be ideal to discharge the incompetent ones from teaching, it will tantamount to more harm than good to push them out of work with no means of livelihood. This therefore calls for excellent crisis management. In addition, government should also organize periodic trainings for improvement and not just only competency tests for dismissal.
Umegboro, a public affairs analyst wrote from Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com
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